The gas pump hummed. Jason pulled the squeegee across the windshield, drawing a wide line of wiper fluid with it. He shook the squeegee over the concrete next to the car, wiped it with the blue cloth he held in his other hand, and reached across the car again to pull clear another band of windshield. I watched the numbers tick higher on the gas pump, gallons and dollars increasing, proportional to the feeling of lightness in my wallet and in my hear that seemed nearly palpable. I squeezed the grip on the pump handle and watched the numbers slowly edge more closely to the limit of my financial and emotional reserves. I glanced at Jason, who had moved to wiping down the passenger-side windows. He smiled at me over the top of the car, and I knew he wasn’t just kowtowing to the rules of sympathetic politeness.

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